[Optician's Sign and Awning]
György Kepes American, born Hungary
Not on view
Kepes was a key figure in the transmission of European modernist photography to the United States. Made the year he moved to Chicago to assist fellow émigré artist László Moholy-Nagy in the founding of an art school based on the German Bauhaus model, Kepes’s photograph reframes an everyday sight—an optician’s sign beneath an awning—as an omniscient specter. Convinced traditional artistic styles were inadequate responses to the alienation of modern life, Kepes focused on photography, design, and public installation as more effective forms for merging art into the everyday. Unlike the oculist billboard in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), which symbolized the impassivity of commercialism, Kepes’s photograph signals that when viewed from a different angle, strong design has the potential to alter perception of the world to powerful effect.